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One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Well this isn’t quite The Breakfast Club.

Today’s review is a YA novel, set in an American high school (big shock I know, but bear with). It opens in detention where five students have all been given detention for having a mobile on them – but none of them brought their mobiles to class…..

They are:

Bronwyn, who is a college focussed overachiever, with a fear of rule-breaking

Nate who has never met a rule he wouldn’t break, and who is a not entirely legal delivery person and on parole.

Cooper, a well behaved uncharacteristically sensitive (aren’t they all in these books) Football Player.

Addy, a prom queen with a less than ideal home life whose mum is the life and soul of any party, who does everything her boyfriend tells her.

And Simon, the creator of the school gossip app, who has built a reputation on destroying those of others.

Who has got them all into detention, as they ponder this, Simon has a drink of water and collapses with an allergic reaction. After his death, suspicion naturally falls to the four remaining students in the room. What would be their motive? Was he about to reveal their secrets? Where what Simon’s epipen, and who removed the rest of them from the School Nurses Office?

As blog posts start to publish with details of the crime scene only the four could know they start to suspect each other, but in the face of police investigation and media scrutiny can they work together to solve the crime?

This is a surprisingly fast moving YA thriller, which aims to subvert stereotypes of teens in teen movies, but unfortunately subverts them in a predictable way. The perfect student may have cheated, the bad boy might have more emotions than he lets on, the prom queens home life isn’t bad and all she wants is to be more edgy and independent.

Where this book is strong is that despite being familiar the characters are well drawn, the pop culture references are neither cringey or forced and the central mystery is compelling. The students secrets and stories are drip fed enough that your ideas for what actually happened will shift throughout the story as plenty of viable suspects are introduced and discounted.

All in all, this is a great introduction for teens into more adult thrillers and the ending is satisfying and ties up the story nicely.

And, for a YA book, it doesn’t set up or need a sequel, so it can be enjoyed for what it is!